Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon May 10, 2010 12:32 pm

Melissa Huckaby pleads guilty in killing of Sandra Cantu

By Sophia Kazmi
Contra Costa Times
Updated: 05/10/2010 09:18:28 AM PDT

STOCKTON — Melissa Huckaby pleaded guilty today to killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu.

Huckaby pleaded guilty to murder with a special circumstance of kidnapping. All other charges against her in the case were dropped.

The 29-year-old Tracy woman was accused of killing Sandra, who was last seen alive on March 27, 2009. After a 10-day search, the girl's body was found in a black suitcase in a pond not far from the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park, where the second-grader and Huckaby were neighbors.

Tracy police arrested Huckaby on April 10, 2009. A San Joaquin County grand jury indicted the mother and Sunday school teacher on murder with three enhancements — kidnapping, lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 and rape by instrument — in connection with Sandra's death. A second count charged Huckaby with a sex crime with a child 10 years or younger.


http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyherald/localnews/ci_15054623
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon May 10, 2010 12:47 pm

Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Kidnapping, Murder Of Sandra Cantu

By Matthew Keys FOX40 News



A San Joaquin County judge accepted a guilty plea agreement Monday morning from Sandra Cantu murder suspect Melissa Huckaby.

Under the plea agreement, struck between Huckaby and the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office, Huckaby will be sentenced to prison for life without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the kidnap and murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu of Tracy last March.

Cantu went missing from a Tracy-area mobile home park March 28th after leaving her home to play with a friend. After a massive two-week search, Cantu's body was found inside a suitcase in a drained irrigation ditch several miles from her home.

After Huckaby -- a former Sunday school teacher at the Tracy Clover Road Baptist Church -- gave contradicting reports to local media outlets, including a report that she filed a police report for a missing suitcase that police later doubted, she was arrested under suspicion of kidnapping and murder.

Sentencing is scheduled for a later date.


http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-news-huckabypleadsguilty,0,7232594.story
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon May 10, 2010 12:49 pm

 
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon May 10, 2010 1:04 pm

I think she plead guilty because there was very little chance she would be found not guilty and there was a strong possibility that she would receive the death penalty. At least she will never hurt another child.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by eva on Mon May 10, 2010 1:54 pm

J4A you are right on the money there. This is an example of why having the Death Penalty on the table can expedite justice!

She plead guilty to save her life!

And thank God those kids aren't going to have to testify! Too bad Casey wasn't more afraid of the Death Penalty. (Like the one she gave to Caylee.)
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon May 10, 2010 11:08 pm

The video of this beautiful, innocent child just skipping along enjoying a sunny day makes you smile. Then you realize this was the last happy little skip Sandra ever made in her life.

The person that brought those happy feet to a screeching halt has pleaded guilty, guilty to murder, in exchange for a plea to save her own life. How can that be? How can she make a plea to save her life when Sandra had no choice?
After Melissa Huckaby is shuffled off to prison for the rest of her life, is it all over? No, it's not. Sad
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by eva on Mon May 10, 2010 11:11 pm

It really bothers me when murderers don't want to die.

Melissa Huckaby was able to execute a child, Sandra Cantu, but Melissa herself is terrified of dying.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Tue May 11, 2010 8:54 am

In Tracy, some residents find peace in surprising turn of events, while others remain searching for closure

By Daniel Thigpen
Record Staff Writer
May 11, 2010 12:00 AM



TRACY - Brian Lawless said he and his daughter, Melissa Huckaby, had long jailhouse discussions before she admitted committing a murder that will put her in prison the rest of her life.

A year ago, Lawless said he believed she was innocent. On Monday, standing outside his family's tiny Tracy church, which investigators once searched for clues to little Sandra Cantu's grisly death, Lawless said he is OK with his daughter's guilty plea.

"Very saddened, of course," he said. "I don't have words to even describe what I feel right now."

Lawless stood behind a blue pickup, furniture stacked in the bed. A trailer attached to the truck held an office chair.

He said he was picking up personal items for his parents, Connie and Lane Lawless, with whom Huckaby once lived doors down from Sandra in the nearby trailer park where the child disappeared.

His parents, Brian Lawless said, have since moved away.

The rest of Tracy, too, is trying to move on. News of Huckaby's courtroom admission spread quickly, ripping open old wounds from a horrific crime that sparked unwanted scrutiny and lingering fears.

For some, the guilty plea offers closure after a tumultuous year.

To others, that finality is elusive as enduring questions - foremost among them, why? - remain unanswered.

"It's going to put a little ease on all of our hearts," said Linda Ortega, 36, a mother of five who has lived in Tracy all her life.

Along with her deep ties to Tracy, Ortega has a personal connection to the case. She knows Sandra's parents. She worked with Sandra's mother at a retail store years ago and went to middle school with Sandra's father.

Ortega said she hopes a judge's gag order on the case will soon be lifted. Maybe that will offer a glimpse into Huckaby's motives, she said.

"I do feel we need to know why," Ortega said as she headed to the supermarket Monday. "I think (Sandra's) mom deserves an answer."

Inside Helm's Ale House downtown, owner David Helm pondered the news shortly after Huckaby's plea deal was announced. There would be no satisfying end to the saga, he concluded.

"A little girl lost her life," he said, pausing and shaking his head. "I don't think there's anything that the justice system, as flawed as it is, can do to make that right."

Helm, 50, was a police officer for 17 years in the Bay Area and spent more than a year on child abuse cases. He has lived in Tracy for almost a decade, watching its grow from a rural town to a suburban enclave.

Helm wondered if maybe Sandra's murder - compounded by other horrific crimes of late - had changed his town, too.

"Unfortunately, Tracy isn't the sleepy little town we moved into 10 years ago," he said.

On Monday, some residents bristled at being once again in the national spotlight, confronted by swarms of TV news crews and reporters many hoped would just go away.

Cindy Sasser was more patient with a throng of journalists. At Jacobson Elementary School, where she is the principal and Sandra was a second-grader, she said Huckaby's plea was welcome news.

"I hope it does bring peace to the family," she said. "It does bring some peace to me."

Outside, Sasser gave a short tour of a garden planted out back, donated in Sandra's memory. Azaleas and geraniums had blossomed pink and white, the girl's favorite colors. It had been a good spring, the principal said.


http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100511/A_NEWS/5110323/-1/rss02
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Thu May 13, 2010 9:11 am

News firms seek Cantu records, lift of gag order

By The Record
May 13, 2010 12:00 AM

STOCKTON - Three news organizations have filed a motion in San Joaquin County Superior Court to open records and lift the gag order in the murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu.

Melissa Huckaby, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to kidnapping and murdering Sandra in Tracy last year.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Huckaby will spend the rest of her life in state prison with no possibility of parole.

After Huckaby's guilty plea, Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus declined a prosecutor's request to lift the gag order. Lofthus also has declined to unseal court records, including search warrants, autopsy reports and grand jury transcripts.

The motion was filed by The Associated Press, Bay Area News Group and The Record.

In the motion, attorneys representing the news organizations wrote, "The justifications that may have once warranted a gag order in this case and the sealing of court records no longer exist."

http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100513/A_NEWS/5130321/-1/NEWSMAP
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Tue May 18, 2010 10:16 pm

Sandra Cantu’s family asking for gag order to remain

By The Record
May 18, 2010 4:47 PM

Attorneys for Sandra Cantu’s family are filing court papers arguing against a bid by news organizations to lift a judge’s gag order on details of the 8-year-old girl’s murder.

In their attempt to keep it permanently sealed, they cite the California Constitution and a recently enacted victim’s rights law. The Record, the Bay Area News Group and The Associated Press have asked a judge to unseal court records in the case of accused killer Melissa Huckaby.

“Those details are unnecessary for public understanding of the crime or the workings of government,” attorneys Stewart Tabak and G. Archer Bakerink said in their motion. “Disclosure of this material is not only morally reprehensible, but unconstitutional.”

The two attorneys represent Sandra’s mother, Maria Chavez, and sister, Simone Mokol Chavez. San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus is expected to hear the case May 24. Huckaby pleaded guilty May 10.


http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100518/A_NEWS/100519840
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Wed May 19, 2010 9:22 am

I cannot blame this family for not wanting the world to know the gruesome details of what that woman did to Sandra. I also think that was another reason Huckaby pleaded guilty, she didn't want to sit in a courtroom and face what she forced upon that child.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Wed May 19, 2010 3:17 pm

I agree Piper. There was no way Huckaby was going to walk and I think the way she killed Sandra is much worse than most of us fear. There's got to be a reason the details were kept hush hush from the beginning. She probably fears she wouldn't survive in prison if she faced a trial and the details became public.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Sat May 22, 2010 11:14 am

Media seeking to shine light on Sandra Cantu case

By Sophia Kazmi
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 05/22/2010 12:00:00 AM PDT

STOCKTON — The veil could soon be lifted in a murder case that has been shrouded in secrecy and silence.

Three news organizations will argue in court Monday that a gag order should be lifted and court records unsealed in the case against Melissa Huckaby, who pleaded guilty May 10 to charges of kidnapping and killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, of Tracy.

Some legal experts say it is a very unusual to keep a gag order in place after a case is decided, but San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus declined to lift it when Huckaby accepted the plea deal.

Huckaby, 29, is scheduled be sentenced June 14 to life in prison without parole.

Duffy Carolan, the lawyer representing Bay Area News Group, The Associated Press and The Stockton Record, says case records should now be made public and attorneys and family members be allowed to talk about the case.

"At this point, it is vitally important for the public to have access to official sources of information and court records to fully understand why the State entered into a plea deal dismissing various charges and agreeing not to seek the death penalty in exchange for a plea of guilty to murder with a special circumstance of kidnapping," Carolan wrote in her court filings.

In exchange for Huckaby's guilty plea, the District Attorney's Office agreed not to pursue the death penalty, dropped two enhancements to the murder charge — lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, and rape by instrument — and one count of committing a sex crime against a child 10 years old or younger. Also dropped were charges in two unrelated cases in which Huckaby was accused of drugging a Hayward man and another Tracy girl.

Sandra's mother and siblings want to keep details about the second-grader's death sealed forever. In court filings on their behalf, their lawyers have argued that opening the case files to media scrutiny would continue the family's pain.

One legal expert said he hadn't heard of a gag order continuing after a guilty finding.

"The gag order is aimed at the public, making sure that you don't develop prejudice" before a trial, said Ed Steinman, a Santa Clara University School of Law professor.

There was wide coverage of Sandra's death, and communitywide help in a search for her. Sandra's body was found in a suitcase in a farm pond a few miles from her Tracy home on April 6, 2009. She had been missing since March 27.

Prosecutor Thomas Testa, who tried to lift the gag order on May 10, now believes it's best to wait until after sentencing to speak. He said there were concerns that with people talking about the case, Huckaby might change her plea and want her day in court. By then, the potential jury pool might have been tainted, he said.

But Steinman said he was unsure if such a scenario had ever occurred.

"If it's happened, I don't know about it," Steinman said. "More importantly, that is not a justification for gag orders continuing."

Sandra's mother and siblings say releasing graphic details about Sandra's death would traumatize the family all over again. The family is satisfied with the plea agreement, Maria Chavez, Sandra's mother, stated in court documents.

"Any claim by the media that additional facts are needed to evaluate the reasonableness and fairness of the plea agreement ignores the fact my family and I are convinced that the negotiated plea agreement was, and is, appropriate," Chavez states. "We are both comfortable and satisfied with this result and are able to find peace from this resolution."

Ruth Jones, a professor at University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, said it's not unusual for victims' family members to try to protect their loved ones privacy, but the court can only do so much to accommodate them.

"It's not their case," Jones said. "It's a public case of the state versus a defendant."

But, there could be reasons why information has not yet been released just yet, Jones said, and that will keep the public in the dark a little longer.

"She's not sentenced," Jones said. "So the case is not over."


http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_15138162?source=most_viewed
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon May 24, 2010 2:45 pm

Judge denies release of Cantu evidence

The Associated Press
Updated: 05/24/2010 10:58:46 AM PDT

STOCKTON, Calif.—A judge has denied media requests to release details of the murder of an 8-year-old Northern California girl whose body was found in a suitcase.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus on Monday denied requests from several news organizations. Lofthus said she wanted to "preserve the integrity of the case."

Defendant Melissa Huckaby has pleaded guilty to killing her daughter's playmate, Sandra Cantu, last year. A gag order in the case prevents court records from being unsealed.

Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, argue that Huckaby's guilty plea removes the need for a gag order. They argue that court records may help the public understand the plea agreement.

Cantu's family opposes the request, which Lofthus says will be revisited after Huckaby is sentenced on June 14.


http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_15150543?nclick_check=1
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon May 24, 2010 5:21 pm

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Tue May 25, 2010 11:56 am

It sounds as if they may release the information after Huckaby is sentenced. Her mother does not want that information released. No one understands the details of what happened are excruciating and painful for Sandra's mother and siblings. I think it is worse than what any of us can imagine. I feel the judge should honor her mother's wishes, she's suffered enough.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Wed May 26, 2010 3:37 pm

Sandra Cantu's mother seeks court's compassion in letter

C. Johnson
May 25, 2010

TRACY, CA - The mother of murder victim Sandra Cantu submitted an impassioned letter to the court pleading to keep grand jury testimony and other details of her daughter's death sealed.

In part, Maria Chavez stated,

"I cannot imagine the trauma and horror that my children will experience if any crime scene photographs of Sandra are released ... or details of the forensic examinations of her become public. They have already been exposed to a level of pain that is hard to imagine.

"The thoughts that run through my head about my daughter's last moments are not something any parent should have to experience. I am tortured about it. I struggle not to let the anger and rage overwhelem me. As a mother, it falls on me to protect my family and not let them be hurt anymore. We have all been damaged enough and I don't know how we will ever heal."

The 8-year-old Tracy girl disappeared in March 2009. Her body was found in a suitcase in a pond 10 days later.

Neighbor Melissa Huckaby pleaded guilty earlier this month to kidnapping and murdering Cantu in a plea deal with the San Joaquin County district attorney in order to avoid the death penalty. Several media organizations filed to have the gag order on the case lifted and police and autopsy records unsealed.

Monday, San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus denied the media's motion but said she would re-address rescinding the gag order after Huckaby is sentenced on June 14.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTE FROM NEWS10: We have had some discussions both internally and on our website about whether the court should release documents related to the murder of Sandra Cantu.

News10 is not one of the media organizations pushing for release of those documents. While we are huge proponents of the public's right to know and the 1st Amendment, we should feel just as strongly about "...treating our customers with respect and dignity, showing particular compassion to the victims of crime or tragedy." (RTDNA Code of Ethics).

If the court does release the documents, News10 will keep the family's considerations in mind before releasing anything. You can be assured we will not release any photos or details surrounding the sexual assault or murder itself, regardless of what the other media organizations in town do. That's our way of setting the news agenda.


http://www.news10.net/news/article.aspx?storyid=82147&catid=188
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:09 am

Contra Costa Times editorial: Open Sandra Cantu records to the public

MediaNews editorial
Posted: 06/01/2010 12:01:00 AM PDT
Updated: 06/01/2010 05:07:49 AM PDT

THE CONTINUED courtroom secrecy surrounding the murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu of Tracy should trouble anyone who believes that our judicial system must be open and subject to public scrutiny.

The more we move toward secret justice, the greater the risk that our court system can be manipulated to unfairly convict innocent people.

A cornerstone of our free society is the notion that if we are ever charged with a crime we will be able to seek a fair trial of our peers. The scrutiny provided by open hearings, public review of documents and robust press coverage ensures that fairness.

To be sure, that openness is not absolute. When Melissa Huckaby was charged with kidnapping and murdering Sandra, as well as preforming a lewd or lascivious act on her and raping her with a foreign object, the judge issued a gag order and sealed records to ensure details didn't leak out before Huckaby's trial.

Such steps run counter to an open legal process. They must be used only rarely and with great restraint.

But we're beyond that stage now. In a deal with prosecutors, Huckaby has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping.

In exchange, the threat of the death penalty was taken off the table and the other charges against her were dropped, as were charges in two unrelated cases in which Huckaby was accused of drugging a Hayward man and another Tracy girl.

There is no longer a need to protect Huckaby from pretrial publicity. There will be no trial. It's essential now that the documents from the case, including the evidence and grand jury transcripts, be made available for public review. Only then can we judge the prosecutor's decision to cut a deal and the judge's decision to accept it. Only then can we determine whether the outcome was just.

We should be able to determine that before Huckaby is sentenced. If there had been a trial, we would have learned all the evidence before the verdict and before the sentencing. With the plea in place and the sentencing pending, the time has come to let the public in on the details of the crime.

Yet, San Joaquin County Judge Linda Lofthus clings to the notion that no information can be released until after Huckaby is sentenced. That delay sets a dangerous precedent, shutting out the court of public opinion before the verdict is rendered.

Worse, there's a hint that the records will never be released. Some members of the Cantu family argue that publicizing details of the girl's death would be traumatic to them. They cite a 2008 voter-approved initiative known as Marsy's Law that gives victims a greater right to be notified before, and speak at, bail, plea, sentencing and parole hearings, and that makes their safety a consideration when criminals are considered for release.

Using Marsy's Law to seal court records would be a gross leap from the intent and wording of the initiative. In fact, the ballot measure sought to encourage more public participation in, and review of, the legal process — not less.

While we're sympathetic to the pain the Cantu family has had to endure, that is not a reason to seal the judiciary off from public scrutiny. We must ensure that the process is open and that each and every defendant receives a fair trial. That benefits all of us.

http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_15184629?nclick_check=1
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Estee on Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:19 am

[b]AMEN to that!!!!
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:35 pm

Huckaby due in court Monday

by TP staff
Jun 11, 2010

Melissa Huckaby, who admitted to kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, June 14, in Stockton.

Huckaby, a former Sunday school teacher in Tracy, is due to appear in Department 14 of the Stockton courthouse, 222 E. Weber Ave., at 8:30 a.m. Monday. She is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Her guilty plea May 10 was the latest twist in the saga that began March 27, 2009, when Sandra was reported missing from her home at Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park. Sandra’s body was found 10 days later inside a suitcase that had been tossed into a dairy lagoon north of Tracy.

Also at the Monday hearing, Judge Linda Lofthus could decide to keep in place or lift a gag order that has kept those involved in the case from talking to the media. Lofthus could also unseal records that contain details of the crime and testimony.

Sandra’s family has fought to keep those records sealed.


http://www.tracypress.com/view/full_story/7885329/article-Huckaby-due-in-court-Monday?instance=home_news_lead_story
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:08 pm

Melissa Huckaby, Confessed Murderer of 8-Year-Old Girl, Sentenced to Life
Former Sunday School Teacher Killed Sandra Cantu, Hid Body in a Suitcase

By RUSSELL GOLDMAN
June 14, 2010

A sobbing former Sunday school teacher apologized today killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu moments beforer she was sentenced to life without parole.

Today in court she apologized to Sandra's family, saying: "I should not have taken her from you."

"I owe you an explanation. But I still cannot understand why I did what I did," she said.

Many of the details of the grisly crime have been kept from the public, sealed under a judge's gag order. Nevertheless, court documents had revealed that Huckaby was accused of poisoning Sandra, and sexually assaulting her with a foreign object, before killing her and dumping her body in an irrigation pond,

The sexual assault charge was dropped as part of the plea deal Huckaby made with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty in May.

The judge is expected to rule later today on a request to unseal court documents and lift his gag order.

At the time of Huckaby's plea, Jaoquin County assistant court executive officer Sharon Morris told ABC News that going to trial would have been a "no-win" situation for Huckaby.

Sandra's family live in the same Tracy, Calif., trailer park, where Huckaby lived with her grandparents and 5-year-old daughter.

Huckaby's grandfather Clifford Lawless is pastor at the nearby church, where the confessed murderer previously taught Sunday school, and which authorities searched in the days leading up to Huckaby's arrest.

Sandra went missing in March 27, 2009. Her body, stuffed in a suitcase, was found two weeks later and Huckaby was arrested that April, when police linked the suitcase to Huckaby. Huckaby told conflicting stories to police and the media about the black Eddie Bauer suitcase, which she said she left in her driveway.

Details, including exactly how Sandra was murdered, have been kept under seal. Police, witnesses, lawyers and family members were instructed not to discuss the case soon after Sandra's body was found last year.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/Media/melissa-huckaby-confessed-murderer-year-girl-sentenced-life/story?id=10910285
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:13 pm

FOX40's Andria Borba is inside the courtroom and is sending out text messages as today's hearing goes on:

Sandra's Aunt Angie Chavez talked first during the sentencing, and talked while images of Sandra played on a tv monitor.

Huckaby is sobbing while the images are playing.

"That video of Sandra skipping down the street will be forever etched in our minds," said Angie Chavez.

"There is no punishment severe enough to bring Sandra back," said Angie Chavez.

"She will have to think about what she has done for the rest of her natural borne life," said Angie Chavez.

Then other family members addressed the court:

"I don't think she thought about her daughter, who will now have to grow up without a mother," Connie Cantu - Sandra's grandmother. (About Melissa's own daughter)

"You took the life of a little girl. She's not even old enough to decide to eat ice cream yet," Danny Cantu, Sandra's father.

"Each time I'm in this courtroom, I place yourself on your side," Judy (Melissa's mom).

"From mother to mother, I am so sorry," Judy Lawless.

"I want you to know she did not suffer and that I did not sexually molest her at all," Melissa Huckaby.

"I can't imagine forgiving someone who harmed my own daughter," Melissa Huckaby.

http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-news-cantucourttexts,0,2112663.story
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:15 pm

How painful for this family. Melissa states that Sandra did not suffer and she did not sexually molest her.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:38 pm

Huckaby just now realizes that she shouldn't have killed Sandra and taken her from her family? Mad

Anybody who belongs in a civilized society realizes that before even thinking about killing somebody. Even though the punishment is too light for the crime, I'm glad Huckaby will never see the outside of a prison.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:11 pm

This woman is the devil.......they lifted the gag order, more detail, how can she stand in front of this child's mother and say Sandra did not suffer!!

Huckaby apologizes as details of killing emerge

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, June 14, 2010

(06-14) 10:51 PDT STOCKTON -- A former Sunday school teacher was sentenced today to life in prison after she tearfully apologized and begged for forgiveness for murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu in Tracy, saying the girl "didn't suffer."

Clutching a tissue, Melissa Huckaby said she still struggles for an explanation as to why she killed Sandra. She said she believes God has forgiven her, and she asked for the same forgiveness from Sandra's mother, Maria Chavez, to whom she wrote a letter of apology.

"I still cannot understand why I did what I did," Huckaby, 29, said in a packed Stockton courtroom as relatives of Sandra and Huckaby wept in the gallery.

"It's not enough to say I'm sorry, but it's all I can do," Huckaby said. She said she will have to live with her decision to kill a "sweet and innocent" little girl for the rest of her life while behind bars.

She said Sandra did not suffer and added, "I did not sexually molest her."

Prosecutors initially charged Huckaby with a number of sex crimes, but those counts were dropped in exchange for her guilty plea May 10 to first-degree murder and the special circumstance of kidnapping. Prosecutors also agreed not to seek the death penalty and dropped other charges, including child endangerment and furnishing a harmful substance for allegedly drugging a 7-year-old girl and a man in the months before Sandra died.

Although Huckaby's reasons for killing Sandra may never be known, San Joaquin County prosecutors revealed today how the girl was killed - asphyxiation.

Sandra's body was found April 6, 2009, stuffed in a suitcase in a dairy farm's irrigation pond 2 miles from her home at the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park in Tracy, where both the girl and Huckaby lived.

In a chilling account released by Deputy District Attorney Tom Testa, authorities said a blood-stained piece of torn cloth had been tied around Sandra's head and knotted into a noose. Traces of alprazolam, a sedative, were found in her system, the same medication found in Huckaby's purse and home, the statement said.

Sandra suffered injuries to her genitalia that were consistent with the diameter of the handles of a rolling pin that was found at the nearby Clover Road Baptist Church, where Huckaby taught Sunday school and where her grandfather is the pastor. The rolling pin had a "bloody smudge" on it, and its handle was bent, authorities said.

The blood contained Sandra's DNA, authorities said. The girl's family and parishioners said Sandra had never been inside the church, authorities said.

A draw-cord from one of the church's blinds had been used to tie shut the suitcase, an FBI expert determined.

The details of Sandra's killing were released today after Judge Linda Lofthus lifted a gag order she had imposed on attorneys and investigators. The judge will rule at a separate hearing this afternoon on whether search-warrant affidavits, grand jury transcripts and Huckaby's probation report will be released.

Sandra was killed only moments after a surveillance video captured images of her skipping near her home March 27, 2009, prosecutors believe.

On the video, as the girl is skipping, "something catches her eye, and she looks over in the direction of Melissa Huckaby's residence," Testa said. Huckaby is the mother of one of Sandra's playmates.

The same video shows Huckaby's sport utility vehicle leaving the mobile home park eight minutes later and going to the church down the road. At about this time, Huckaby phoned the trailer park manager to report that her black Eddie Bauer suitcase had been stolen from in front of her home.

About 85 minutes later, the surveillance video shows Huckaby driving away from the church, authorities said. She was gone for about a half hour.

"It is during that 30-minute period that both a retired U.S. Marine and his wife see Melissa Huckaby and her SUV at an irrigation pond at Bacchetti Road and Whitehall Road in Tracy," the statement said. "Melissa tells them she was there to urinate."

The next day, Huckaby showed police a handwritten note that she said she had found in the trailer park. The note, riddled with misspellings, read, 'Cantu locked in stolin suitcase thrown in water on Bacchetti Rd. & Whitehall Rd witness."

"The handwriting, though disguised, has similarities to Melissa Huckaby's known handwriting," the statement said.

Sandra's body was found in an Eddie Bauer suitcase in the same pond where the retired Marine and his wife had seen Huckaby, authorities said.

Huckaby was arrested four days after the girl's body was found.

In court today, Sandra's aunt, Angie Chavez, played a DVD showing pictures of Sandra as she was growing up. Many in the gallery wept.

"Seeing these images of Sandra are bitter. It reminds us of her. However, these are the last images we have of her," Chavez said. "No punishment is severe enough to bring Sandra back."

Sandra's grandmother, Connie Cantu, and father, Daniel Cantu said they also felt sorry for Huckaby's young daughter. Choking back tears, Daniel Cantu told Huckaby, "You took the life of an innocent little girl."

Judy Lawless, Huckaby's mother, also addressed the court, saying she and her family have grieved and prayed for Sandra's family.

"If I could take this all away, I could, but I can't," Lawless said. "I know these are words, but they're words from the heart. From mother to mother, I'm so sorry."

Sandra's disappearance triggered a 10-day search that gripped Tracy, and missing-child posters were spread all over Northern California. Thousands showed up at a memorial for Sandra, who loved cooking, gardening, Hannah Montana and Hello Kitty.

Huckaby had been undergoing mental evaluation as a result of an earlier petty-theft conviction, and relatives said she had battled depression. Sources said she tried to commit suicide in the days before her arrest by swallowing razor blades.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at hlee@sfchronicle.com.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/06/14/BAKJ1DUTQQ.DTL#ixzz0qqtAcweZ
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:17 pm

You are right Piper. She is the devil.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:25 pm

A rolling pin.........she tortured this child. Sad

Now is she going to be safe and sound in a protected cell for the rest of her life? She doesn't deserve to be.....

I feel so bad for Sandra's family. They did not want these details released.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:06 pm

Melissa Huckaby Used Noose to Kill 8-Year-old Sandra Cantu

June 14, 2010

Former Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby used a noose to strangle 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, officials revealed today during the confessed killer's sentencing.

Quoting the pathologist's report, prosecutor Tom Testa said Sandra had been strangled with a torn piece of cloth that had been knotted into "a noose." He said the cause of death was "homicidal asphyxiation."

Previously released court documents had revealed that Huckaby was accused of poisoning Sandra, and sexually assaulting her with a foreign object, before killing her and dumping her body in an irrigation pond.

Some of her injuries were consistent with a rolling pin with a bent handle and bloody smudge found inside a church where Huckaby had taught. The smudge matched Sandra's blood, according to the pathologist's report.

But according to the pathologist's reported cited by Testa, Sandra suffered a cut to her lip, an abrasion to her elbow and injuries to her genitals.

Testa said toxicology tests also found the drug alprazolam, used to treat anxiety disorders, in Cantu's body. Bottles of alprazolam were found in Huckaby's home and purse, Testa said.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/Media/melissa-huckaby-confessed-murderer-year-girl-sentenced-life/story?id=10910285
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:14 pm

I am just sick over this information.....drugs, a rolling pin, a bloody noose and a suit case. And this all happened in 8 minutes, my god.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:28 pm

I can barely stand reading any of this. Huckaby got off way too easy.


Last edited by Justice4all on Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Julie on Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:11 pm

Piper wrote:I am just sick over this information.....drugs, a rolling pin, a bloody noose and a suit case. And this all happened in 8 minutes, my god.

I'm with you on that! wth?
And that "she didn't suffer" comment, YES, she did!!!!!! Mad

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:20 pm














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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:22 pm







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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Guest on Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:57 pm

She is the devil - and WHY must she LIE to the mother now - that Sandra didn't suffer and wasn't molested are lies - she must have known that physical evidence would definitely prove otherwise...

I am torn on the release of evidence - I do feel sympathy towards Sandra's family and wish for them that the evidence could have remained sealed - yet, the release of such information is what keeps our justice system and us as a nation - FREE - in essence. Now we see that Melissa wasn't unjustly charged - although life behind bars w/o parole isn't a just punishement... What she did to the most innocent of victims was so cruel - we wouldn't dare treat an animal the way Sandra was treated. I still think about sweet little Sandra - and I hope that her family does get the closure that they seek...

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Julie on Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:34 pm

Wow, on the first video, they put the video of Sandra skipping past the security camera
for Huckaby to see.

That was powerful! Make Huckaby watch it over and over!

But I feel so awful for Sandra's family that that video clip is the last moments they have of her alive & like the Aunt said, seeing that Sandra was so close to home, and none of them could protect Sandra from Huckaby, that was sad.

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:05 pm

Crying or Very sad I hurt so badly for them, I just can't wrap my mind around it.

I fully understand why the family didn't want the details to be public knowledge. They live this over and over in their minds, it never goes away. They probably can't even discuss those details among one another, because it rips them apart inside. It's a feeling of protection and defense, protecting Sandra, her privacy and dignity, if you will. And protecting her siblings from seeing it in print, either now or years later.

On the other hand, it is our system and if the facts in a case of someone being sentenced to life in prison remains unknown, anyone of us could be imprisoned without just cause.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:06 pm

And another thing, this was premeditated on Huckaby's part. I believe like the rest of you, life in prison is not punishment enough. I guess I really don't know what would be........but I could think of medieval punishment for her.

It's stated that most children abducted by sexual predators are killed within two hours.......Sadly, this just goes to prove what can happen within a matter of minutes in an abduction of a child for the sole purpose of satisfying a deviant non-human being. barf
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:33 pm

Judge unseals some documents in Cantu murder investigation; Huckaby gets life sentence

Kris Vera-Phillips
June 14, 2010



TRACY, CA - After Melissa Huckaby was sentenced to life without parole for killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu Monday morning, a judge agreed to release more information on Cantu's murder investigation by unsealing the grand jury transcription, some exhibits and search warrants.

The documents are expected to be released to the public on Friday.

However, San Joaquin County Judge Linda Loftus decided to keep the autopsy pictures sealed as well as other grand jury exhibit items.

Read more: http://www.news10.net/news/article.aspx?storyid=83591&provider=top&catid=188
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by khintx on Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:55 pm

I think that what this woman did to Sandra was so horrendously indescrible that Sandra's parent's are blessed to have Mellissa Huckaby plead guilty ....... the indescribable details of this crime will not come out........ they have buried their much beloved child who died at this monstor's hands .... their grief is unfathonable, they do not wish this to be played over and over again in the public domain. More power to em.

"A horse-drawn hearse with a small pink casket inside, led the funeral procession for 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. The casket signed by her second-grade classmates. About 200 family members and close friends attended the funeral."




I strongly suspect the local "grandfather's church's" involvement in this. Perhaps Melissa Huckabee was "reinacting" something that happened to her. We may never know. But do we really need to know? I think not.
Respectfully submitted,
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:18 pm

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:44 pm

Mom says prison sentence is just in girl's murder

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 4:56 a.m.

STOCKTON, Calif. — The mother of an 8-year-old California girl whose killer was sentenced to life in prison Monday says she thought the punishment was enough.

Maria Chavez is the mother of Sandra Cantu, whose body was found in a suitcase last April. A Sunday school teacher, Melissa Huckaby, has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murdering her.

Chavez said on NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday that she "can't forgive somebody that took my little girl from me."

She says she found no comfort in Huckaby's apology and says it's "difficult to understand" why she killed Sandra.

Chavez had asked that court records in the case be sealed, but the judge is considering releasing the search warrants and grand jury transcripts. The family members referred questions about such a move to their lawyer.


http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jun/15/mom-says-prison-sentence-is-just-in-girls-murder/
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:49 am

Police Over Look Suitcase Containing Body of Sandra Cantu

Posted: 5:45 AM Jun 16, 2010

With the gag order now lifted in former Sunday school teacher Melissa Hucakby case, we're learning more about the Sandra Cantu investigation and how a mistake in the search delayed the body being found.

According to a California Police Department each team was assigned specific areas team leaders then reported back to a supervisor who tracks everything on a map.

That system broke down when one team was at a holding pond on white-hall road and saw a suitcase floating among manure and urine.

And that discovery went nowhere.

"The person out there at the time, the team leader, said that's way too small for a child to be in," says Tony Sheneman of the Tracy Police Department.

This was after potential suspect Melissa Huckaby gave police a note she claimed to find indicating Sandra was locked in a stolen suitcase and thrown in the pond.

The next day a farmer found the suitcase with Cantu's body that had been dead for several days.

Now Tracy Police say the delay wouldn't have made a difference

http://www.wbko.com/news/headlines/96458469.html
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:53 am

That's a pretty big mistake if you ask me........

A child is missing, then the note and you don't pull a suitcase out of a holding pond to check it?
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by eva on Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:00 pm

Inasmuch as I despise the details of Sandra Cantu's murder being released, it is important to (I can barely type this) note the evidence of the barf rolling pin (we will just leave it at that). This is proof that there was a sexual molestation prior to the murder.

Melissa Huckaby states at sentencing through her (sniff) Crying or Very sad tears that "To this day she doesn't know why she did this but it wasn't a sexual molestation".

The evidence proves otherwise.

Melissa Huckaby sexually molested Sandra Cantu after she kidnapped Sandra and before she murdered Sandra. Melissa Huckaby does not want to be put away for life with the (accurate) label of "Child Molester". As many know, I was taken from my front lawn at age 3, to the end of the street into the bushes where I was molested, but thankfully (is that the right word) I was returned to my home and able to "live out my natural life". I believe Sandra Cantu had to die to fulfill Melissa Huckaby's sexual desire. I hate child molesters, and I hate the ones that kill their victims to keep them quiet EVEN MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mad I suppose Melissa states that Sandra didn't suffer because Melissa administered some of her anti anxiety psych meds to her young innocent victim. It's unfortunate that Melissa didn't commit suicide before she kidnapped, raped and murdered young innocent Sandra Cantu.

I'm covered in goosebumps and all I can say now is
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Snaz on Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:37 pm

Oh, eva, I did not know what you suffered as a child... and how it must affect you to this day. I'm so sorry for what you had to go through. You seem like a very strong, level-headed woman, maybe in spite of your past.

I agree with you about the evidence. As much as it will hurt Sandra's family (and my heart just breaks for them), it does need to be released in order to prove Melissa the monster she truly is. All while she is tearfully saying she is sorry, she had the nerve to ask Sandra's mother for forgiveness.... and tell her Sandra did not suffer and that she did not sexually molest her. TRUST ME, Melissa..... Sandra DID suffer.

Melissa's tears didn't touch me..... she is only sorry because she got caught, and knows she will pay for the rest of her life the consequences for torturing and murdering a beautiful little girl. Melissa is getting off easy, if you ask me.

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by eva on Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:49 pm

Oh thank you Snaz. hug Yer nice..... Sad I appreciate your comments about what happened to me when I was three years old. Yes, I am affected by what happened to me. In a number of different ways. One interesting way is that until I had a counselling session with an employee assistance program counsellor, just a few years back, I always felt I was three years old (I'm mid 40's) and everyone else was all grown up. I could elaborate, but I imagine you get the idea. There's other stuff too, but, that which does not kill me makes me stronger!!!!!! I've survived so much in my life up to this point! Drowning in Hawaii at age 11, wicked harrassment at work, but I got to live past Caylee's age.

I got to have my two kids (THEY get to be alive), my husband, watch my daughter win a trophy in Irish Dance the other night!!! bounce Walk in the sunshine this very day! The list goes on AND ON!!!!!

Melissa Huckaby deserves to be labelled a Child Molester. Now that she's cut her hair, she even looks the part more........ Somehow......... affraid
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Piper on Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:13 pm

Eva everytime I think of you as a 3 year old I get a little stab in my throat.......

Melissa Huckaby is a nasty vile beast. She drugged another little girl before Sandra. She is a violent sexual predator to the core. I agree, she is getting off easy. barf


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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:29 pm

Eva - I'm so sorry to have learned of what you went thru at the age of 3 - that's just horrible - I have a precious little 3 yr old girl and can NOT imagine what you and your family went thru.
As a mother, I have to say that I would rather have my child ALIVE under the most horrible of circumstances than dead - and that's why I'm with you when I say that I hate child molesters, but the ones that kill their victims are so much worse.
Melissa Huckaby has taught me that NO ONE can be trusted with our most prized possessions - our children. So many times we think our children are safe, because they are with a woman - but obviously, that is not the case. That's what I have learned from this case, and hopefully others will respect Sandra's memory and do more to protect their children from monsters like Melissa...

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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Justice4all on Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:11 pm

Eva I'm sorry to hear what you went through as a kid. I don't understand how people can be so evil.

It doesn't matter what Huckaby said in her apology. Nobody is going to believe that she's not a sex predator.
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Re: Sandra Cantu -- Found Deceased 4/6/09 -- Melissa Huckaby Pleads Guilty To Murder

Post by Julie on Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:59 pm

eva, just want to give you a big (((((hug))))) and say what a terrific person you are, despite the horrible thing that was done to you. It NEVER should have happened!

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